Putnam woman turns loss of a child into nonprofit clothing ministry


Kendall's Heart

For years, Swann said she yearned to be a mother. She grew up babysitting kids and watched her friends and family get pregnant as she got older — dreaming of having a child of her own someday.

“My mission in life was to be a mother. I waited 30 years to reach that goal, and she came,” said Swann who works as a bus driver for Putnam County Schools in the Hurricane area.

After a previous miscarriage, she was nervous. She was older, most of her friends and family already had kids, she didn’t believe it was real at first.

But it was real. Her dream was becoming a reality. Her baby girl, Kendall Anne, was due in June 2013.

“The doctors were extremely pleased with the entire pregnancy,” she said.

Swann attended doctors appointments twice a week for stress tests. During her 36th week, she went for her first appointment on a Tuesday, and everything went well.

But by Thursday, things changed.

“Something was not right,” Swann said. “Somehow or another, we didn’t know this at the time, but her cord got wrapped around her neck. She lost oxygen.

“My whole world just went poof,” she said. “Right to the gutter. It crushed me.”

Swann lost her baby on May 31, 2013.

“We’ve been strong, but as time went on, I thought, ‘I have to do something to take my negative, my depression and my sadness to do something in memory of her,’” she said, crying.

And Kendall’s Heart was born.

She had been doing it on a much smaller scale for years before, but after talking with some friends, she knew this could become her ministry.

Kendall’s Heart provides free clean clothing to families in need — no questions asked.

Swann and her dedicated network of friends and volunteers personally collect, inspect and wash every item they receive.

She’s built a strong team of volunteers who are constantly on the lookout for clothes, for people to support and for connections to be made.

Every three months, Kendall’s Heart holds a clothing giveaway. The next event will be Saturday at Forrest Burdette United Methodist Church in Hurricane from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“Fire victims, flood victims, anybody who wears clothes. I have no restrictions. I don’t care how much money you have, what county you live in or what state you’re from,” she said.

And they’re not just any clothes. Swann said she sees tons of name-brand clothes come through her nonprofit organization, like Under Armour or Buckle.

“Some little child or some mom is going to be so happy because she can provide for her child,” Swann said.

Swann stores all of her donations in two large storage units at Whirlwind Storage in Hurricane. The units are packed full of trash bags and totes of clothes, each labeled and organized by size.